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An Act of (Self) Gratitude

By Lori Welch Brown

I cannot believe I’m sitting down to write a Thanksgiving column or that I was greeted by an aisle of Santas and reindeer when I walked through Hobby Lobby earlier today. Seems the season ’tis upon us, and shell-shocked though I may be, I don’t mind a single bit. I love this time of year—pumpkin spice, colorful leaves, leather boots, and comfy sweaters. Sigh. Fall in Virginia is perfect, even if we do get a few random heat waves. Or, maybe that’s just my personal heat wave kicking in.

I’ve done a wee bit of holiday shopping, and have started to think about travel plans, guest lists, etc. And, my illustrious publisher, the ever-amazing Ms. Lani asked me to include some things I’m grateful for at the bottom of this column (see below).  My mind is stuffed like the proverbial turkey full of people and things I’m grateful for, but I’m also thinking about gratitude that doesn’t always come to mind, self-gratitude.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but while we are quick to thank others and pay homage to co-workers, friends, family members, bartenders, baristas, librarians, teachers, and that guy Doug who works at the car wash, we are slow to give ourselves a much needed and well-deserved pat on the back. On the contrary, we are quick to judge ourselves harshly, criticize needlessly, and generally put ourselves down at every opportunity. We don’t give ourselves enough credit and/or ‘thank’ ourselves for all that we manage to accomplish, small daily wins, and maybe even major accomplishments. Not only do we not give ourselves credit, but when someone else recognizes our efforts or pays us a compliment, we immediately downplay it. “Awww—it was nothing really,” or “Ha—I probably screwed it up—no biggie.”

Not only do we not give ourselves a pat on the back, but we manage to wrap our arm behind it, sledge hammer in hand, and drive our sense of self down into the dirt. You can barely get that arm around to your spine in yoga class, but dang if it doesn’t whip around there when it’s time to pound yourself down. You know who are you!

So perhaps, just perhaps, this season we could take a few moments each day to give gratitude to ourselves. Maybe it’s a slow roll. “Thank you for getting out of bed when the alarm went off,” and build up to, “Thanks for being an amazing mom and a great wife.” If it feels weird at first, try talking in a different voice or better yet, writing it somewhere where you’ll see it throughout the day.

Here’s the best part—if no one else is saying those words to you, what a gift to give yourself. You don’t have to wait to be thanked. Take control of your gratitude.  Hey—maybe the rest of the crew will catch on when they spot signs around the house saying how fabulous you are, they’ll grab the chalk and start adding on.  Wouldn’t that be lovely?

You can be in a house full of people and yet somehow feel unseen and unappreciated. You can sleep next to someone and feel alone. I’m not saying this is going to fill your heart and/or make you feel complete, but it’s like lighting a little spark and watching the flame grow. Gratitude starts from within and who knows what will grow from it?

Still having trouble? Just look at your to do list and give yourself a bit of thanks for everything you managed to check off or for managing to have a list. Being organized is awesome and amazing! Go, you!

Lori—thanks for doing the dishes and the laundry.  Thanks for taking the Amazon returns to UPS.  Thanks for scheduling a vet appointment for Dozer and for remembering Luna’s birthday and getting a gift in the mail. 

My husband, XXL is pretty good at thanking me and showing gratitude, and frankly, I don’t always need a pat on the back. But on the days I’m being especially hard on myself, pausing to be kind to myself is a great way to counteract the internal badgering.

“I can’t believe you ate pizza last night.  Not just one, but three slices!  You’re never going to lose weight,” might just turn into, “Lori—great job on preparing a healthy meal last night. Way to exercise some self-control.” 

Maybe, just maybe, if we start being kinder to ourselves, we will begin to experience a little shift, and the kindness will spread like a wildfire to warm your spirit through the entire holiday season.

On that note, I’ll say that I’m thankful to myself for building long-lasting relationships with people who continue to amaze me and for having the courage to keep moving forward when things feel hard. I’m also grateful to myself for constantly seeking new ways to evolve, grow, and learn.

And now, my list of the other things I’m grateful for this Thanksgiving season…

I’m eternally grateful for my husband XXL who continues to put up with me and who seems to still love me even when I’m mean and cranky. I’m grateful for my parents. May I continue to make them proud and honor their memories. And, I’m grateful for the sweet, wet noses I get to wake up with every morning—Dozer, Lucy, and Josie—you had me at hello.

About the Author: Lori is a local writer, painter and pet lover who loves to share her experiences and expertise with our readers. She has been penning a column for the OTC for over 20 years. Please follow Lori online on Medium for more missives like this.

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